Sean, Sport and Dr. Martens

Another blog post made up of different small bits put together.

Another blow your socks off blog post by Sean

First: a link to Sean’s blog. He has written another amazing and detailed blog post of the imho highest quality you will find in the stationery blogging world.

This blog post was a cooperation of Sean and Lexikaliker. What else did you expect if the greatest minds of pencil blogging get together..

Bleyweißstefftmacher: The Vagaries of Pencil History

A Question of Sport

I’ve never watched A Question of Sport ( am not interested in sports), but when I turned the telly on this weekend I saw this pencil (held by Osi Umenyiora). The pencil looks like the Impega / Lyreco to me. They are extremely common in offices in the UK. It’s the only wood cased pencil my employer provides and in the past Henrik has told me that this pencil is also very common in offices in Denmark. I think Henrik’s employer also provides them for staff (we both work in education). This is not the first appearance of the Impega / Lyreco on a BBC show. Who knows, maybe this sis the pencil you find in the BBC’s stationery cupboard. Contestants on other BBC shows tend to use ballpoint pens – but on QI you can find other cool stationery, like Muji’s notebooks.

An Impega / Lyreco pencil on A Question of Sport (Image © BBC)

An Impega / Lyreco pencil on A Question of Sport (Image © BBC)

There is a similar looking pencil from Lyra, but this one is most likely the Impega / Lyreco pencil.

Dr. Martens kids logo pencilDr. Martens pencil

I am not sure whether Dr. Martens is popular outside Europe, so just a quick explanation: It’s a British company selling WWII German army style boots in all sorts of colours. They also sell other shoes, but with similar soles.

I came across their kids line logo this weekend. It is a pencil, but it’s not any pencil – it’s a Staedtler Noris style pencil.


The screenshot in this blog post has been taken from Episode 13 of Series 45 of A Question of Sport. I believe that the use of the screenshot shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

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Peanuts Orenz 0.2

Today: another Orenz related blog post.

Vintage Peanuts Snoopy Pentel Orenz

Vintage Peanuts

Cover of the Atari VCS 2600 Snoopy cartridge

Image © probably Atari

My new Orenz reminds me of a summer probably about 30 years ago. I’m playing Snoopy and the Red Baron1 (borrowed from a friend) on my Atari VCS 2600 – and there’s also a red, mechanical Snoopy pencil involved2. I even think that the Snoopies printed on the pencil were quite similar to the ones you can find on the Orenz.

I bought this ‘Vintage Peanuts – Snoopy’ pencil from a Taiwanese eBay seller and paid £11.65 (~ $18; €16.35) – £8.15 for the pencil and £3.50 for postage.

A use for the Orenz

Like all Orenz pencil it is great for someone with small handwriting or if you need to make small annotations in documents.

Vintage Peanuts Snoopy Pentel Orenz



This is actually my third Orenz. My blue one arrived in a letter from America, thanks to Shangching‘s generosity and my white one was bought from Amazon for £4.23 (~ $6.50; €5.90).

Vintage Peanuts Snoopy Pentel Orenz



Peculiarities of 0.2mm leads

Unfortunately there is one of the problems you will find with 0.2 mm leads that you probably won’t encounter with more traditional mechanical pencils. When I got the white Orenz and tried to use it for the first time the 0.2 mm leads are so light, the static charge of the plastic barrel made them stick to the inside barrel of the pencil and it wasn’t possible to get the leads to forward the normal way. In the end I had to take a lead and feed it though the sleeve / front of the pencil. Once that sleeve was used up the pencil was clogged up, too – but it was then possible to unclog the pencil by disassembling it. Not great, but still much better than the kind of mess I experienced with a Rotring Newton.

0.2 mm leads, stuck to the barrel because of a static charge

0.2 mm leads, stuck to the barrel because of a static charge


Price: January 2015 (white Orenz) / October 2015 (Snoopy Orenz)

Exchange rates: November 2015

As usual, please click on the images for a larger version or open in a new tab for a really big version of the image.

You can read more about the Orenz in this blog post about sliding sleeves and this blog post about the force needed to slide a sleeve.

You can read more about the Peanuts 60th Anniversary Moleskine in this blog post.

You can find reviews of the Orenz at Lexikaliker (Google Translation), The Pen Addict, One Lone Man’s Pens and Pencils and So I Herd You Like Pencils.

The cover of the Atari VCS cartridge has been taken from Wikipedia, where it has been provided by user NBATrades. I believe that the use of the cover falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. I still remember the title screen music []
  2. Now that I think of it I think it might have been a Zebra pencil, but I am not sure. The pencil should still be in my mothers house so I’ll check next time I’ll be there. []
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Pimp my Rotring rapid PRO 0.5

This is a follow-up blog post to my earlier blog post about the Rotring rapid PRO 0.5.

The Rotring rapid PRO is a stunningly beautiful mechanical pencil, at least the black version is …for my taste. As you might remember the sliding sleeve was the worst performing sliding sleeve I have seen so far.

My Rotring rapid PRO 0.5 taken apart

The purpose of a sliding sleeve

The main purpose of a sliding sleeve is, in my opinion, to slide back while you write so that you can keep writing without having to press the button / use whatever mechanism there is to advance the lead.

If the sliding sleeve doesn’t slide back easily you might as well got for a retractable sleeve, one that is either all the way in or out. This make the pencil pocket safe and allows work that is more suitable for drafting purposes, too.

On the unmodified rapid PRO 0.5 you had to use a force of about 1.2 N to get the sleeve to move – far too much to make the sleeve slide back automatically while you write.

The Rotring rapid PRO 0.5's sleeve

The sleeve

Pimp my sliding sleeve

Having never explored how the sliding sleeve mechanism works I assumed ‘simple’ friction is responsible for the force needed to slide the sleeve. The problem is: I thought it’s the friction between the sleeve and grip section holding the sleeve (the grip section can be seen on the left in the first picture). To reduce the friction I took the sleeve out and started removing material from the sleeve on my Spyderco Sharpmaker. This made the sleeve thinner, something I had hoped would reduce the friction, but after a while I noticed that this treatment didn’t help making the sleeve slide easier at all.

The Rotring rapid PRO 0.5's sleeve on a Spyderco Sharpmaker

Trying to reduce the friction – the wrong way: the sleeve on a Sharpmaker

I then figured out that the friction holding the sleeve in place must be caused by the white plastic holder at the bottom of the sleeve. I started using the file from my Swiss Army knife1 to remove some of the plastic, i.e. making the plastic holder narrower, but that took too long, so in the end I just cut bits of the plastic off with the knife.

This time it worked. Great!

Trying to file some of the plastic off....

Trying to file some of the sleeve holder’s plastic off….

From 1.2 N to 0.2 N

The result: You now only need about 0.2 N to slide the sleeve of my rapid PRO, which makes it suitable for writing without having to advance the lead all the time. This is an amazing result – because of the bigger lead diameter you can’t compare an 0.5 mm sleeve directly to the 0.2 mm sleeve of the Orenz. Just the friction caused by the 0.5 mm lead in the rapid PRO’s sleeve (i.e. just these two parts, ‘outside’ the pencil) means that you need 0.1 N just to slide the sleeve down the lead – that’s without the additional force needed to slide the sleeve within the pencil barrel/ grip section.

If I’d have to do it all again I obviously wouldn’t make the metal sleeve narrower. It made the sleeve a bit more wobbly, but it is not really an issue. It is certainly still less wobbly than a Kuru Toga or Muji’s flat clip mechanical pencil.

That's one small scrape off [a] sleeve, one giant leap in the friction chart.

That’s one small scrape off [a] sleeve, one giant leap in the friction chart.

More about the Cloud Book in the blog post, I’m still using it regularly.

  1. Fun fact: I got this knife from my godfather in the 1980s and I believe it is the same model as the one that the astronauts used on the Space Shuttle, just mine has a cork screw instead of a screw driver. []
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Monocle again

Well, after having had a look at Japanese stationery in issue 81 the current issue of Monocle, number 88, includes a Bavaria survey. Quite a few Franconian companies are included as well and even though there are only five sentences in the magazine about Faber-Castell the editors must have thought pencils are sexy enough to put them on the cover of the latest issue.

Faber-Castell on the cover of Monocle magazine

Faber-Castell on the cover of Monocle magazine

They also have a paragraph on Gmund paper, the company that makes the golden envelopes for the Oscars and provides the paper for other big events and companies.

I believe that showing a photo of parts of the Monocle cover in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

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The Kuru Toga – an old hat? 2

This isn’t really a follow up to my 2009 blog post The Kuru Toga – a disappointment, t’s more of a separate blog post – by coincidence I’ve come across a document I want to share.

As consumers we usually see Schmidt as a manufacturer of pen refills, but they actually do manufacture a lot of pens. If you look at their catalogue you can see pen parts that look as if Schmidt is manufacturing pens or parts of pens for big companies like Lamy and Montblanc.

They also seem to invent a lot and are very innovative when it comes to pens, even though very often we don’t see these inventions in mass market products. Just one example, I remember reading about a fountain pen they invented that uses microscopic pumps to transport the ink to the nib.

Well, it looks as if they have also invented something very similar to the Kuru Toga, just that they did this 25 years before Uni / Mitsubishi.  You can read more about it in this patent: DE 3641432 C1 , but be warned: Google’s translation of this patent isn’t brilliant.


It even looks a bit like the Kuru Toga

It even looks a bit like the Kuru Toga (Image from Schmidt’s patent document)

I assume I can show the image from the patent here (‘fair dealing’), as the patent is available to look at via Google anyway.

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